Donald Trump and WWE: How the Road to the White House Began at ‘WrestleMania’
Unsurprisingly undeterred, Trump also showed up soon after on WWE TV to sign a contract for the WrestleMania 23 match. McMahon would be his usual boastful self, claiming that there was no way he could lose thanks to Umaga, and his own traits, including the size of his “grapefruits.” Trump fired back with, “Your grapefruits are no match for my Trump Towers,” which just raised so many questions.
While it was a pretty standard contract signing (Stone Cold cameo aside), there was one eerily prescient moment. After making their match official, Trump started touting his poll numbers, saying that “95 percent” of Hollywood celebrities – John Travolta was singled out – wanted to see him shave McMahon’s head. He has employed the same strategy since announcing his candidacy for the White House this past summer.
WrestleMania 23 was a huge hit for WWE, shattering company records for ticket revenue and PPV buys, and while some of the credit has to go to a card that featured John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels and Batista vs. the Undertaker, Trump’s involvement definitely gave the event a sizeable boost. On the night of the show, he shot a segment in which he no-sold the Boogeyman, then took on McMahon in a match that saw him tackle the WWE chairman and throw some of the worst punches in wrestling history. Oh, Lashley won, meaning Trump also got to give McMahon a haircut – before demonstrating he had no idea how to take a Stone Cold Stunner.
Trump would resurface on Raw in June of 2009, when a storyline had him swoop in and buy the show from McMahon. Trump promised some innovative ideas as he took over Raw, including running a commercial-free episode the following week. This actually helped ratings spike nearly a full point, though that was sort of offset by the fact that a fake press release announcing Trump’s ownership actually caused the price of WWE stock to fall 7 percent. Of course, all of this was quickly rectified when McMahon bought back Raw for twice what Trump had paid for it (the Donald always wins), though given that this entire debacle also kicked off the hated “Guest Host” era of Raw, you could argue that it haunted wrestling fans for years to come.
And that brings us to that WWE Hall of Fame ceremony in 2013. While a few of his fellow “celebrity wing” members had been given the business by the crowd during their inductions – like Drew Carey in 2011 – no one got treated like Trump. The WWE faithful in New York booed Jerry Lawler, who was simply there to introduce Trump’s inductor, McMahon. They booed McMahon whenever he mentioned Trump’s name. And they booed Trump. A lot. Except when he introduced his daughter, Ivanka. Of course she got cheered.
Yet, it was at the Hall of Fame where Vince McMahon, in all seriousness, said the following: “When you think about it, second only to me, Donald might very well be a great president of the United States.” The New York crowd booed. We’ll see what the folks in Iowa have to say.